Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the 73-year-old Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy advocate, was yesterday denied bail after being charged the previous day under the territory’s National Security Law.
Lai faces a charge of collusion with foreign elements to endanger national security, apparently for posts he wrote on Twitter and interviews or commentaries he did with foreign media.
The Apple Daily, a newspaper owned by Lai, said he is accused of asking a foreign country, organization or individual to impose sanctions or engage in other hostile activities against Hong Kong or China.
His case was adjourned to April 16 at the request of prosecutors, who said police needed time to review more than 1,000 posts and comments made on his Twitter account, the Apple Daily reported.
The newspaper said his charge sheet listed several foreign politicians who followed Lai on Twitter and cited commentaries he wrote and interviews he did with foreign media.
Lai, who was already being held on fraud charges after police raided his media company, was seen handcuffed with a chain around his waist as guards led him to a van to go from prison to court.
In an open letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) on Friday, US Senator Rick Scott called for the immediate release of Lai, along with others charged under the law, including Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), Agnes Chow (周庭) and Ivan Lam (林朗彥).
“Mr Wong, Ms Chow, Mr Lam, and Mr Lai are the faces of true bravery and are fighting for the freedom and liberties all Hong Kongers were promised under the 1997 handover,” the letter said, referring to an agreement China made with the British government to ensure the territory’s autonomy.
“They have not committed actual crimes, rather they have bravely dared to offend the fragile sensibilities of [Chinese President] Xi Jinping (習近平),” it said.
Carrie Lam has “failed Hong Kong and its citizens,” Scott wrote in the letter, saying that over the past two years, she has “proved to be nothing more than a puppet for General Secretary Xi and the Chinese Communist Party,” and has used the new national security legislation “to unfairly and unjustly prosecute men and women for standing up for freedom and participating in peaceful protests.”
“If you do not start standing for the freedoms the people of Hong Kong were rightfully promised, history will judge you harshly,” the letter said, calling on Carrie Lam “to finally do what is right, and choose instead to honor these brave men and women for their commitment to fighting for basic rights for Hong Kongers.”
Additional reporting by staff writer
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